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Products > Aloe pillansii
Aloe pillansii - Giant Quiver Tree
Image of Aloe pillansii
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aloeaceae (now Asphodeloideae)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [Aloidendron pillansii]
Height: 10-16 feet
Width: 6-12 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): No Irrigation required
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Aloe pillansii (Giant Quiver Tree) This succulent tree is noted to grow to 30 to 40 feet in habitat (but likely MUCH smaller in cultivation) with thick smooth sparingly-branched trunks that are tipped with rosettes of only a few fat short slightly-arching silver-gray leaves that have small pale yellow teeth along the margins. The pendant bright yellow rounded flowers are produced on branched inflorescences that emerge from the axils of the lowest leaves in mid-spring though we have never seen this plant flower here in cultivation. Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate little or not at all during the summer months and protect from frost - notably not damaged by short term temperatures down to 25 F but below this expect some damage. This is regarded as one of the largest of South Africa's tree aloes though it is rarely seen to any great height in cultivation in California (for that matter it is rarely seen at all!). Only the more common Tree Aloe, Aloe barberae gets taller and more massive. Aloe pillansii actually appreciates more heat than we can typically give it in Santa Barbra unless in a very favorable location. One such location existed on a southwest facing hillside in the hills above Mission Canyon but this house and the beautiful 6 foot tall Aloe pillansii in its garden succumbed to the Jesusita Fire in 2009. In Tree Aloes of Africa (Penrock Publications, 2015) authors Ernst van Jaarsveld and Eric Judd note that this plant "thrives in cultivation, used as a focal point in arid gardens, provided the rainfall is below 400mm (~16 inches) and planted in a sunny well-drained position, and frost light and not too severe. Plants are slow growing and may become a small sized tree in 30 years ... It grows well in containers, but preasure from the root ball will easily break the container." Aloe pillansii comes from the dry succulent Karoo, a biome extending from western South Africa northward into Namibia. This plant is regarded as endangered due to over collecting and mining activities in its native habitat. This plant is similar to Aloe dichotoma, though Aloe pillansii has broader and paler leaves with pendant yellow flowers while A. dichotoma has upright inflorescences. This plant was named by South African botanist Louise Guthrie (1879-1966) in 1928 to honor Neville S. Pillans, the a well-known Cape botanist who first collected it at Cornell's Kop in the Richtersveld. The common name comes from a translation of the Afrikaans name Kokerboom which translates as a quiver tree as the hollowed stems were used as a quiver for arrows. An alternate common name sometimes seen but deemed politically incorrect and insulting is Bastard Quiver tree which makes reference to the Richtersveld region being one of the Baster states of South Africa that was populated by biracial descendants of the indigenous African people and European settlers this name should really not be used and we only reference it here as clarification about the origin of the name. In an interesting twist of nomenclature, a recent article in the Journal >i>Phytotaxa 76 (1): 714 (2013), titled "A revised generic classification for Aloe (Xanthorrhoeaceae subfam. Asphodeloideae)" proposes that this plant actually be taken out of the genus aloe and given the name Aloidendron pillansii (L.Guthrie) Klopper & Gideon F.Sm., comb. nov. Other major name changes proposed in this article include the other tree aloes (Aloe dichotoma, A. eminens, A. pillansii, A. ramosissima and A. tongaensis ) also being placed in the genus Aloidendron and the scrambling aloes (A. ciliaris, A. commixta, A. gracilis, A. juddii, A. striatula and A. tenuior) be put in the genus Aloiampelos and the Aloe plicatilis, the popular Fan Aloe, to be renamed Kumara disticha, a name that was used to described it by the German botanist Friedrich Kasimir Medikus in 1786. Until such time as this name change gets wider recognition we continue to call this plant and the other by their original genus name. Our original plants were from a small crop produced using micropropagation techniques by Rancho Tissue Technologies and while we continue to supplement our crop with plants produced by this means, most of our current crops have been produced by coring and rooting shoots from these laboratory produced plants. 

This information about Aloe pillansii displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.